A political campaign is rife with challenges and pressures similar to those of a digital marketing endeavor: You have to juggle getting your message out on various platforms with managing your social media and having a crisis control strategy on hand. Todd Herman has straddled both these worlds. A longtime digital executive, Herman spend two years as the chief digital strategist for the Republican National Committee (RNC), leading them to victory in the 2010 elections.
Herman, who is speaking at the iMedia Brand summit in March, spoke with iMedia to share some insights from his 12 years in digital marketing, as well as his experience in Washington D.C.
iMedia Connection: What is the use and origin for the "three Cs"?
Todd Herman: Executives at media and technology companies used to ask me to boil down, to the bare essence, what the consumer drivers for adoption of digital alternatives were to linear broadcast (they are quite well understood by now, but "new media" actually used to be new). In 2004, I began to explain these drivers with the three C's: control, condense, and combine.
Todd Herman is the founder of Hour72//Marketing:
Smarter people than me will explain this in a more elegant way, but in just about every successful movement of traditional media into non-traditional distribution, you will find, to one degree or another, that the three C's help explain why consumers adopted it. In a succinct example, people want to control when and where they consume media; they want to condense those experiences down to only those portions of the media that they deem relevant (without being force-fed other elements); and they want to combine media without regard to things that only the industry cares about, like who owns a show or a piece of content.
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I have seen ad campaigns that seem to be respondent to the three C's; that's encouraging. You can take this much deeper, obviously: Consumers want to control exactly what media enters their home and their children's minds. I am one of many who no longer has any linear feed of media into our home, and that is one reason why, as well as a growing trend. I think this will continue to fragment media in new ways, driven along value lines, which in the age of "buying audiences" will necessitate new varieties of ads targeted at known values.
Consumers want to condense consumption times -- Twitter is a fantastic example of "info-sipping" taken to what might be considered a crazy degree -- but again, speaking as a focus group, I get directed to news stories through Twitter where I endeavor to do more than sip when something interests me. Micro-information blasts are here to stay -- let's just hope we don't all start believing what we read in seven seconds.
I have seen a few examples info snack-oriented ads in Twitter, which are more than just click-candy, that actually give me an info-blast -- Chrysler was one, Bing Mobile another. Combine, though, has proven the most change-inducing of the three C's. Facebook is many things; it is, though, very clearly a place where people choose to combine news consumption with share (or, as I call it, news propulsion); they combine personal lives with media curating. Facebook management has given people the ability to combine aspects of email with all the media-intensive aspects of microblogging.
iMedia: As a former political campaigner, to what extent should the political machine really monitor the social media responses -- or should they monitor them at all?
Herman: It varies, really. There are campaigns and political organizations that do this a lot; most of it through human monitoring. I am aware of some people in politics who are very interested in actual crowd-listening done by software, by companies like Recorded Future or PredictivEdge, to name two. It's safe to say that this hasn't taken a super-strong hold. As to whether it should be used, I would argue that, so long as they respect privacy -- and I mean really respect it -- then, yes it should.
Polling is one of the biggest aspects of political campaigning, and in some ways it's an area that is increasingly anachronistic. The difference between polling and social listening is similar to observing animals in a zoo versus in the wild; companies that really do social-listening well are observing people in a much more life-like environment than pollsters who encounter people who want to "sound smart" or please the pollster (of course people act differently in social media than they do at home, but are more likely themselves than being interviewed). Real crowd-monitoring, by that I mean very sophisticated systems, should replace polling entirely, but that will take time. Keep in mind, DC has yet to shift meaningful dollars to broadband video from TV -- that puts them almost 10 years behind the brand world.